Senate passes election bill

By Sky Opila

By Sky Opila

Staff writer

Senators of the Illinois General Assembly recently passed a clean elections bill that will now move on to the state’s House of Representatives.

This is the second time the Senate has passed the bill. Sen. Barack Obama, (D-Ill.Senators of the Illinois General Assembly recently passed a clean elections bill that will now move on to the state’s House of Representatives.

This is the second time the Senate has passed the bill. Sen. Barack Obama, (D-Ill.), sponsored the original legislation in 1998. However, the bill was defeated in the House.

The clean elections bill is “a proposal designed to fix the financing of elections by halting runaway campaign costs and curbing the influence of big-money special interest groups,” according to a press release from the League of Women Voters of Champaign County.

A clean elections candidate would receive equal state funding to run, while a candidate not running under the bill would have to find fundraising and corporate sponsorship. If passed, the bill would not require all candidates to run with the clean elections policy.

Justin Cajindos, president of the college Democrats and junior in LAS, said he feels that clean elections could be beneficial in Illinois.

“I think it’s a really intriguing idea,” he said. “The way they’ve applied it in Maine and Arizona shows that there is potential for it to work in other states, including Illinois.”

Clean elections have been pioneered in Maine and Arizona. About 83 percent of the Maine’s State Senate and 77 percent of the House are clean elections candidates. In Arizona, 58 percent of the House, 23 percent of the State Senate and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano ran as clean elections candidates, according to the League’s press release.

Cajindos went on to say he feels that clean elections would allow for better campaigning.

“All the candidates who (run) this way can actually spend time talking to their districts and their voters instead of fundraising,” he said. “The quality of the candidates has improved because in other states where they don’t have strong campaign finance laws, a lot of good, potential candidates are deterred because of the cost of running.”

However, clean elections do not have widespread support. Jacob Vial, president of the college Republicans and sophomore in Business, is still unsure if clean elections would benefit Illinois.

“It is more democratic if our citizens have an option of giving their time and money to candidates that stand for the issues and have the values they agree with,” Vial said. “With clean elections every candidate gets the same amount of money and is no longer accepting personal donations. I just think it’s part of democracy as our choice of who we want to put our money to.”

Vial also said the clean elections bill has caused a constitutionality debate in Maine.

“If it does go through, we need to look at the constitutionality based on Illinois’ state constitution,” he said.

The League will meet to discuss clean elections, Thursday. The League is bringing in an outside group to present on clean elections.

“The (current) question is if the leadership will allow (the bill) to come to the floor,” said Cameron Satterthwaite, retired professor, Democratic activist, husband of League member Helen Satterthwaite and panel member.

Camerson Satterthwaite said that the League is allowing him and the others to present the information in the bill to them before they decide to what extent the groups will cooperate.

“In cases where it has been in effect, there have been more candidates, more minorities, more women, more contested elections,” Camerson Satterthwaite said. “It has opened up the entire political process in states where this has been in affect.”

In addition to the presentation on clean elections, Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden will give a short presentation about new optical scanning voter machines that will be used in the upcoming primary elections on March 21. In the past, systems where ballots had to be tallied by hand slowed down the total process.

“These machines have been in use for over a decade,” Shelden said. “It will definitely make the end of the night ballot counting process much easier.”

In addition to easier counting, the machines will also be much easier to use.

“The machines have been successful in other Illinois counties such as Lake and Will County,” he said.

The meeting will be held Thursday at the Urbana City Council Chambers, 400 S. Vine St., at 11:30 a.m. and will be open to the public.